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Language

Ava is having a language explosion.  In the past week she’s said the following new words: juice, soup, cracker, cookie, outside, turtle, bat, sweep, and stick.  There’s a lot of other things she says that I can’t decipher.  Last week she walked up to Jon and I, said something of great import, and walked away.

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I cannot wait until spring.  Winters can be hard inside the house when it’s dark outside.  I miss going to the park.  Last year we could take Ava in the Baby Bjorn at night and walk around, but she would never tolerate being stuck inside that thing now.  Plus, she would break my back.  One advantage to her being so mobile is I’ve been throwing my back out less frequently.

 

Fortunately there are a lot of indoor activities available during the day.  We go to the Natural History Museum and the library frequently.  We also hit up the Discovery Museum, Target, Ikea, bouncy houses, and the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point.

Last weekend Ava had her first playdate.  It was selfish because I like the mom a lot and her son is a bit too old to play with Ava (3.5) but Ava loved his toys and hanging out with the daughter, K (11 months).  Ava was surprisingly tolerant of me holding K the whole time.  K can stand with assistance and she would giggle if you held her up so I spent a lot of time doing that.  K would giggle and Ava would laugh.  I’m hoping we can all be long-term friends.

Zebra Dove

Hawaii had two doves that you don’t see on the mainland: Zebra Doves and Spotted Doves.  I didn’t get any decent shots of Spotted Doves, but you can see pictures of the ones I took in China here.  Zebra Doves are very small, but they make quite a noise.  My boss was on a conference call when he was in Hawaii, and the Zebra Doves filled the background with their calls.

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They’re not afraid of people at all, which is why I got some decent shots with no more than a 250 mm lens.

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These birds are everywhere in Kauai, possibly the second most common bird behind the chickens.  Their tail feathers are tipped in white with almost black color in the center and the males flip the feathers up for a courtship display.  I saw them doing it, but I couldn’t get to my camera in time.  They were so common that Ava wasn’t even impressed when she saw them.

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Ava Is 20 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

Ava has been pretending she’s a dog for several months, but now she also pretends that she’s a kitty.  Her nanny tells me that she sometimes pretends that Teddy is a kitty, which is brilliant.

She loves to tease everyone, including Teddy.  She will offer you food and then pull it back at the last second.  She cracks up if you do it back to her.  But Teddy doesn’t play by the rules.  Ava will offer him food and he’ll take it.  She’ll chase him yelling “Teddy!  Teddy!  Teddy!” as if she wants him to give back the food.  If I’m nearby, she’ll offer him the food while hiding behind me so she has a better chance of keeping the food.  Teddy doesn’t know what to think.

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Ava can be very sneaky.  Today she was looking through the front window to get her nanny to look outside too.  Then she slipped away and busted open the door to my office.  I love it!  I might not love it if she’s sneaking out of her bedroom as a 15 year old.

Foods and Liquids

Ava has been going through a major growth spurt.  Her little belly is almost gone and she eats a ton during the day.  She has 3-4 solid meals and snacks.  She’s still all about carbs.  On Sunday, she got so excited when I took out a slide of bread.  She could barely wait for me to toast it and put jelly on it.  Ava also loves cheese.  She says “cheese” at least once a day.  Ava loves eating straight salt so much that she says “salt” and points to it.

Ava saying “helloo” from the western most pay phone in the country

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For the most part, Ava seems like a toddler instead of a baby, but she still drinks milk from bottles and she wants to be held while she drinks.

Sleep

Ava keeps kicking my head during the night.  She’s also developed a habit of trying to pull my hair to soothe herself to sleep.  I’ll have to move her away from me and sometimes it causes Ava to wake up around 2-4 am and it takes awhile to get back to bed.  She’s getting a toddler pillow and a new set of sheets in the hopes that I can make her bed seem more attractive.

Language Skills

I think Ava can identify all the well-known animals in the U.S.  She’s started saying fox, deer, raccoon, and frog.  At least once a week she says a new word.  On Sunday it was broccoli (“broc-li”).  Today it was “spoon.”

Because we always say thank you when Ava gives us something, she thinks that’s what you say when you want something.  Now she points at an object and says, “tank-u, tank-u, tank-u” with increasing fervor until you give her the object.

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2015 Year in Review

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1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I went to Hawaii and Portland, Oregon.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last Year

(1) Lose weight.  I didn’t lose 30 pounds, but I am about 10 pounds down from last year.  It was impossible last year because I was sleep deprived, stressed, and miserable at my job.  This year my sleep is better, I’m much less stressed, and I love my job.

(2) Stay focused.  Yes!  It’s easier to stay focused when you like your work.  Also, when you have too much work to do, it’s easier to stay focused.

(3) Get organized.  I’m getting there.

This Year

(1) Lose weight.  I’d like to lose 20 more pounds.  I think I can do it this year since I don’t have the stress and I work from home where I’ve been eating salads for lunch.

(2) Avoid having to toss any produce from our CSA.  I was doing really well until we went to Hawaii.  Our neighbor picked up the CSA and then returned it a few days later minus a few bags of greens, potatoes, and brussels sprouts.  He said there was no way he and his wife could keep up with the amount of produce.

Since then we’ve been eating greens and greens and cabbage and squash.  We were watching a documentary the other night about how Panda Bears eat 40 pounds of bamboo leaves a day.  I asked Jon if he ever felt like a Panda Bear because of the CSA and he responded with an emphatic yes.

In general I love the CSA, though.  Have you heard of the studies where they determine that people are happier when they have fewer options?  That’s how I feel about having to use CSA food.  I enjoy making recipes to fit the produce.  For example, I had no idea how many different dishes could involve cabbage.  You can even make coleslaw and put it on top of corn pancakes.

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(3) Make time to get a personal trainer or take bootcamp classes.  We live in a great area of SLC with many different types of gyms nearby.  I get so wrapped up in work, suddenly it’s 5:30 pm and I’m done with work.  But I really want to make time to get out and exercise.  I’ll feel so much better if I can workout.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Tess gave birth!  Lots of people I only communicate with on Facebook gave birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, but Hawaii feels like a different country.

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6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

I’m looking forward to have more detailed conversations with Ava.  We have a lot of conversations now, but it’s going to get so much better in the next year.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 11th was Ava’s first birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I’m me again!  I have interests, and confidence, and I’m not just bumbling around wishing I could sleep!

9. What was your biggest failure?

In between ending my previous job and starting my new job I took a programming class that went very badly.  I wish I had had the ability to complete it but I lacked the time and abilities.  I probably won’t go back to taking classes for a very long time, if ever.  It’s not at all necessary for my job, but it would have been nice to have that degree.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

All the baking equipment has been great.  I love cooking!

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage and Ava’s nanny.

13. What did you get really excited about?

I am having so much fun at this new job.  It has more variety than I used to get and I’m doing pharmaceutical/medical device work!  Some if it is really gross, which is exciting in its own right.

14. What songs will always remind you of 2015?

I’ve been listening to a lot of music, but not enough to have an association with 2015.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? Richer!

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Sleep, but it’s hard to get up and go to bed when life is so busy and Ava gives us so little down time.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worry about money.  Try to make things work with Ava’s old nanny.  Her new nanny is 100 times better.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Making my best galette yet!

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Master of None is a really smart tv show.  It’s a great show in the middle of so many shows I used to like that are now awful or average at best.  I’m looking at you Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, The New Girl, and The Walking Dead.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

“We Are Not Ourselves” by Matthew Thomas was the best book I read in 2015.  I normally try to avoid fiction unless it’s a classic, but this year I let myself read more because I was tired and I wanted to read whatever seemed good.  This is a fantastic book that follows two generations of a family.

I also liked “Gone Girl,” “A Girl in a Band” by Kim Gordon, and “Not My Father’s Son” by Alan Cumming.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I listened to a lot of Spotify suggestions and my own Spotify playlist.  Nothing specific really.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Gone Girl was great.  We rewatched Back to the Future I and II because we’ve passed the date when they send Marty to the future.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 and I worked.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I think it was pretty satisfying.

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25. What kept you sane?

Jon’s support.

 

Merry Christmas

Ava had the best Christmas ever!  Jon was up until 7 am assembling her kitchen.  It came with two hundred screws and bolts!

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I cook in the kitchen so this helps her have something to do when she wants to be near me and will prepare her for eventually being my sous chef.  Ava tried to add her milk to a dish she was making, but I wouldn’t let her.  However, I gave her water and she sautéed it like a pro.

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Ava got some excellent presents from everyone.  She’s now fully stocked with dinosaurs, new outfits, and books.  We had to take some of the presents away because she was getting overwhelmed.  She threw several tantrums on Christmas.  Everything is better now that she doesn’t have a pile of new presents to stress her out.

I’m going to have to put her in this outfit at least once a week.

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In addition to saying “uh oh” all the time, she’s been saying what is supposed to be “Oh no!” but it comes out sounding more like “oh Joe!”  She also puts both hands on her head, like she can’t handle whatever is going on.  I love it.

When Ava sticks her tongue out, you shouldn’t interrupt her.  It’s her serious face.

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Ava is obsessed with drawing and coloring right now.  She does it for hours.  She uses her left hand to draw, but for other activities she uses each hand about 50% of the time.  It will be interesting to see if she winds up left handed.  I’m left handed and Jon’s mother is left handed so it’s in the genes!

All chickens are descended from Red Jungle Fowl, but the chickens on Hawaii are supposedly a more pure version of Red Jungle Fowl.  In any case, they are magnificent:

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Chickens in Kauai are like pigeons on the mainland.  They’re everywhere and they’re ready to eat your food.  These guys would get into everything if you let them.  At one beach, they were going through one family’s evening meal.

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At Ke’e Beach we brought a packed lunch and the chickens started circling.

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They were quite brazen.  I had to threaten them so they wouldn’t eat my baby.

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The females aren’t as spectacular as the males, but they’re still pretty cute.

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I miss having chickens roaming around the streets.

Ava and Beaches

When we were planning the trip to Hawaii, I was worried that Ava might get bored.  I had no reason to worry.  All the beaches below are on Kauai.

During our first day at the beach, we started at Baby Beach.  The beach has rocks in the water that prevent the waves from getting too rough.  Ava stayed mostly on the sand, probably because there was so much of it, the granularity was very different from the sand at the park, and it has a different consistency when it mixed with the water.

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I kept trying to get Ava to go back to the house to nap, but she would fuss if you tried to pick her up.  I relented until Ava tried to fall asleep in the sand.

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The next day we hit Salt Pond Beach, which looked just like paradise.

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Ava was more interested in playing with the beach ball than swimming.

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The next day Ava was much braver about the water.  She was willing to do anything as long as one of us was holding her.  Ava became so comfortable with the water that people would come up to me and comment about how well she was doing in the water.  One woman said her baby, who was older than Ava, didn’t even like walking in the sand.

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The next beach was so intense that Ava wasn’t allowed in the water without a life jacket.  The undertow would knock me over when the water was only going up to my calf.

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That’s Jon below.  While I took pictures of him, I would think: “This may be the last picture of Jon before he drowns.”

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Ke’e Beach was my favorite because of the color.  Also, there were no rocks to cut up your feet and the waves were moderate.  Ava was her bravest in this water.  I’d be holding her in water up to my shoulders and she’s try to kick off of me as if she was going to swim alone.

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I also liked the beach because it had chickens.  Excuse me, Red Jungle Fowl.  But that’s a separate post.  Also, it had this girl taking selfies of herself in a Santa hat.

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Merry Christmas!

 

 

We came back today from a week vacation on Kauai.  It was amazing!  I usually get bored by the end of a vacation but this time I was sorry to go home.

I didn’t do any specific birding, but I took pictures of birds when I could.  My favorite was the Rose-ringed Parakeets.

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The male is in the first picture and the female is in the second picture.  The distinction is that the male has a black outline under his chin and a blue tinge to his head.  I only got a decent shot of the male because he had a broken wing.  I still stayed pretty far away to make him more comfortable.

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They slept in the trees outside the house we rented.  They settled in after sunset and flew off after dawn.  They filled the skies.  I didn’t get a lot of good pictures because of the lighting, but you can get the sense for the hundreds of birds flying around.

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If Ava woke me up early enough, I would take her out on the porch to drink a bottle while the birds woke up and slowly flew away for about 30 minutes.  Jon got a picture of us together one morning.

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The neighbor who lived directly next to that tree was not happy about all the birds.  He would try to get them out of the tree by clapping.  They eventually settled, like extra leaves in the trees.

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Ava is 19 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

Ava loves to feel scared.  She’s been climbing on the couches and jumping on them, which means that we have to be ever vigilant to make sure she doesn’t fall off and crack her head.  We bought Ava a kid tent at IKEA that is the best $20 we’ve ever spent.  She loves being inside and having you growl and scrape your hand from outside the tent.  She also loves if I’m inside the tent with her and Jon grabs her leg to try and pull her outside the tent.

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Foods and Liquids

Ava is trying more new foods.  She doesn’t always like them, but she does try them and that’s all I ask.  She loves cabbage stew.  I never expected that to be a success, but I’ll take it.  She loves cheese so much she asks for it: “Cheese?”  When she wants a bottle at night she pulls me to the fridge and tries to open the door.  She grunts with effort while she tries to open the doors.

One time I gave Ava food that was too hot.  Now she has to blow on all food, even if it’s straight out of the refrigerator.  It’s very funny.  Jon said, “It’s a tough life for you having a husband that wants all food hot and a baby that wants all food lukewarm.”

She’s chewing on bok choy in this picture.

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Sleep

When I went to Portland I was hoping that Ava would sleep through the night like she did the last time I spent the night away from her.  She slept until 4 a.m. and became hysterical because it took me awhile to wake up and grab her.

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Language Skills

I’m expecting Ava to start using sentences in the next six months.  She almost uses sentences now.  Like she’ll say, “Oh, a bird!” if she sees a bird.  She understands so much!  She points at so many things when we read books together.

You can ask her to do things using sentences and she understands.  For example, if you say “Can I have a kiss” it’s too generic and she might kiss one of her animals.  But if you say “Ava kiss mommy” she will kiss you if she feels like it.

And she’s so expressive.  When she likes something she says “Whoa” or “Wow!”  She’s really enjoying the Christmas lights on our street.

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Happenings II

It’s not always about Ava, right?  I have a few tidbits in my life too:

  • Last week I went to Portland for the first time for a work thing.  I was able to get in 45 minutes at the Portland Art Museum, which is fantastic for modern and contemporary art.  We’re all going to go back to Portland in the spring.  I think Ava will love it.
  • I made the best apple pie yesterday.  It rivals the best commercial pies I’ve had.  And it looks pretty too!

 

Ava had her first dentist appointment where the doctor said she should have her teeth brushed twice a day.  As a result of increased brushing and giving Ava a toothbrush, Ava has decided that her animals need their teeth brushed regularly.  She gives one of us the toothbrush and supervises.  If we do it wrong, she takes the toothbrush back and fixes our errors.

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Ava has four teeth coming in all at once.  I’m so happy they finally broke through.  After this, she’s supposed to have 4-6 months before her last set of molars break through.  Poor Ava has been waking up moaning in pain.

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Ava knows so many words now I can’t even keep track.  I’m expecting her to string them together into sentences any day now.  She even know what a minion is.  All her favorite movies involve minions.  All her favorite TV shows involve Peppa Pig.

Ava likes to pretend that different objects are phones.  Things as big as a kindle to things as small as the volume control on my headphones.  She picks up and object and says “He-00o.”  In this picture she’s actually using a toy phone.

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Ava has started saying “Uh-oh.”  She uses it appropriately, like when things fall, but also when I ask her to look for an animal in a book.  She really likes this book where there’s an owl on every page and its position moves.  If you ask her where the owl is, she giggles saying “Uh-oh” and pointing at it.

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